I find it slightly amazing how Audemars Piguet is capable of producing a seemingly endless barrage of different iterations of the Royal Oak each year. Given that the Royal Oak is a legitimate horological icon, the brand can’t really alter its core design all that much, and even the similarly styled Offshore range exists as its own distinct collection. That said, every single year, the brand somehow finds a way to create countless new Royal Oak references that all offer slightly different takes on this same fan-favorite integrated bracelet design. Continuing this trend, the historic Swiss manufacturer has announced an entire batch of new Royal Oak models for 2023, and among them is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin reference 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01, which embraces thoroughly modern materials and pairs a striking red gradient dial with a case and bracelet made from titanium and bulk metallic glass.
While the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin (ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01) is technically a new model and marks the first time that the collection has offered a case and bracelet crafted from titanium and metallic glass, calling it a completely new watch is ultimately a bit of a stretch. Aside from its novel dial and case materials, the watch itself is very much the same ref. 16202 Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin that already exists within the brand’s current collection, which means that it features a case that measures 39mm in diameter by 8.1mm thick, with sapphire crystals fitted to both the bezel and caseback, along with the Royal Oak’s signature integrated bracelet and 50 meters of water resistance. Additionally, two years ago for Only Watch 2021, Audemars Piguet created a piece-unique Royal Oak Jumbo from these same decidedly modern case materials, although that watch was based upon the previous generation (ref. 15202) and featured a gray Petite Tapisserie dial. Consequently, the new Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01 (more-or-less) combines these two models and then adds a bright red dial to help set it apart from its counterparts.
First discovered in the 1960s, and primarily used in the micro-electronics and golf industries, bulk metallic glass is a specific type of alloy known as amorphous metal because it is characterized by a non-crystalline structure of atoms (similar to glass). A handful of other watch brands also use bulk metallic glass, although Audemars Piguet has co-developed its own palladium-based version, which has been specifically engineered to be highly resistant to wear and corrosion, along with offering a more lustrous final appearance. Because of its unique composition, the caseback is engraved with the “Pd500” hallmark, which is present due to the fact that the brand’s bulk metallic glass contains over 50% of palladium. To create the bulk metallic glass components, the material is melted down and poured into molds to provide the parts with their rough form, before then being rapidly cooled and machined into their final shape. On the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01, titanium is used for the middle case and primary bracelet links, while the bezel, caseback, and center links of the bracelet are all crafted from the brand’s palladium-based bulk metallic glass alloy.
Aside from its thoroughly modern case materials, the dial of the new titanium and bulk metallic glass Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01 is its second most noteworthy feature, and it showcases a vivid red color (officially known as “smoked burgundy”) that darkens in a gradient fashion towards the outer perimeter. The overall design and layout of the dial are identical to its siblings with a pair of centrally-mounted hour and minute hands, an applied “AP” logo on the lower half of the dial, luminous baton markers, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. To complement the warm hue of the dial, the hands and applied hour markers are crafted from 18k pink gold, and the calendar disc is also finished red to match the surface of the dial. However, since the aperture for the date window is located at the exact same location where the color begins to fade from red to black, the overall aesthetic is noticeably less cohesive than what is offered by the color-matched calendar discs on the standard single-color dials.
Just like the standard reference 16202, the new titanium and metallic glass Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01 is powered by the brand’s manufacture Caliber 7121 automatic movement, which first made an appearance last year in 2022 and is the successor to the original Cal. 2121 that was used inside the brand’s “Jumbo” models since the Royal Oak was first introduced way back in 1972. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 52 hours, the 268-component Audemars Piguet Cal. 7121 benefits from a number of updates and refinements compared to the movement found inside the previous generation of the “Jumbo” and it features a quick-set for the date, bidirectional winding for its automatic assembly, and a bearing-mounted skeletonized rotor that is crafted from solid 22k pink gold. Functionally speaking, the Cal. 7121 doesn’t offer anything all that revolutionary, although it does represent a significant step forward compared to the rather outdated Cal. 2121 from the previous generation.
While all Audemars Piguet watches are fairly expensive items, the brand charges a pretty steep premium for its various renditions that are crafted from different materials. Consequently, Audemars Piguet declines to provide pricing information for the majority of its higher-end models, and if you check the brand’s official website, you will see that it has declined to make a public retail price available for the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin ref. 16202XT.OO.1240XT.01. We inquired about the price, as we feel that this information should be public knowledge, and the official retail price of this new “Jumbo” in titanium and metallic glass is $96,400 USD, which makes it nearly three times the price of the standard stainless steel model, and even a healthy premium above the solid gold version (although it is important to remember that the bulk metallic glass components contain a significant amount of palladium). Personally, I’m always a bit annoyed when brands decline to publicly provide pricing information, as it implies that if a person even acknowledges the price of a watch, then they must certainly not be able to afford it. That said, Audemars Piguet is hardly the only brand that follows this practice, and it not publicly listing the price is probably at least partially due to the fact that they aren’t too eager for people to do the math and realize that you can get your hands on a 18k gold model (and even in your favorite shade of gold) for almost 25% less than this latest addition to the catalog. For more information on the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin in titanium and bulk metallic glass, please visit the brand’s website.